Ultrasound — or ultrasonography — is a common, painless imaging exam. It does not expose you to radiation, unlike X-rays. Instead, it uses sound waves to create pictures of the organs and other structures inside the body. There are three types of ultrasounds:
- Doppler ultrasound images blood flow in veins, arteries, and organs
- Three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound shows more realistic images, similar to what a doctor might see during surgery
- Conventional ultrasound displays flat images
Wait at home, not in the emergency room. Use the Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican online waiting service to select your estimated arrival time for ultrasound in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.
Why Do People Need Ultrasound Scans?
Ultrasound is an invaluable tool to help emergency room doctors and nurses diagnose patients. In an emergency, ultrasonography can help:
- Examine internal tissues and organs
- Evaluate the health and well-being of an unborn baby in women with pregnancy-related complaints
- Guide procedures, including needle biopsies
- Determine the cause of conditions and symptoms, such as viral and bacterial infections, swelling, and sudden, severe pain
- Take a closer look at blood flow and blood vessels
What to Expect During an Ultrasound Machine Scan
In some cases, the ultrasound may take place in the emergency room. Ultrasounds typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. A technician guides a small transducer over the skin of the examination area. A water-based gel helps the transducer maintain contact with your skin. You may feel pressure as the transducer moves over your skin. Some types of exams use a probe, such as a transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound. There may be some discomfort with these exams.
There are no known risks of ultrasound. However, there is the possibility of a false-negative or false-positive result. A false-negative result is when ultrasound misses a problem that is present. A false-positive is when the ultrasound is interpreted as showing a problem that isn’t there. The accuracy and quality of an ultrasound depends on the skills of both the technician and the doctor interpreting the images.
What to Expect After Your Ultrasound
Once the ultrasound is complete, you will return to the emergency room if you are not already there. There is no recovery necessary from the ultrasound itself. Keep in mind you may have additional imaging tests — such as X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan — to confirm the initial results or to get more information. A radiologist will interpret the results and share them with your emergency room doctor.
Emergency services providers at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican hospitals diagnose injuries and conditions with ultrasound in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.